§ LORD HERSCHELL
My Lords, in asking the assent of your Lordships to give this Bill a Second Reading, I think it is desirable that I should state what is the origin of the Bill, and the course which I propose to take. The subject of Copyright, as your Lordships are aware, was investigated by a Royal Commission some 20 years ago, and there have been various attempts from time to time to give effect to the recommendations of the Commissioners. The Bill which I now propose to your Lordships, is a Measure which has been framed by the Copyright Association. The Copyright Association represents all those who are interested in Copyright—publishers, authors, literary, and dramatic people, and those interested in artistic copyright also. I do not present the Bill as one to which I personally pledge myself as to all its details and particulars, but, in view 1637 of the course which I ask your Lordships to take, I thought it better to introduce it in exactly the form in which it has been prepared by the Copyright Association, because it seems to me that it will form a good basis for the discussion and consideration of the subject by a Select Committee. Your Lordships are aware that last Session a small portion of the subject was dealt with by a Bill introduced by my noble and learned Friend Lord Monkswell, and considered by a Select Committee; and he has introduced that Bill in the present Session also. The object of introducing a Bill dealing with only a few amendments to the law, was for this reason, if possible, to take those points which it was thought would not give rise to any serious controversy, so that the amendment to the law might be made without the difficulty which undoubtedly attaches to any Measure dealing with the entire subject. But, in view of the discussions which have been going on between the Ministers of this country and those who represent the Governments of some of our Colonies, it has been felt that there would be a difficulty—I need not go further into the reasons for it—in pushing that Measure forward, and dealing, by way of completed legislation even with the small part of the subject, and that a satisfactory solution would be more likely to be arrived at if the whole Bill were considered by a Committee of this House and the Measure were put, if possible, into a shape which would be likely to be generally satisfactory to all. Of course, I am quite aware of the fact that it will be impossible to produce any Copyright Bill which will please every interest and every individual, because, undoubtedly, as regards some of the matters with which this Copyright deals there are interests that conflict, and some balance must be struck between them in determining what is the best form which the law should take. But, nevertheless, I confidently ask your Lordships to consider this Bill by means of a Select Committee, so that we may be able to produce a Measure which will be felt generally to be a satisfactory solution of the question; and, therefore, I say that, whilst I do not pledge myself to every detail and every provision in the Bill, and whilst I am aware that objections are felt as regards some of its provisions, I think, as 1638 I said before, that it may very well serve as a basis for discussion by a Select Committee, and as a foundation upon which a satisfactory Measure may be built. I, therefore, ask your Lordships to read the Bill a second time, and if your Lordships do so I shall ask that it may be referred to a Select Committee. Some of the provisions of the Bill which deal with the subject of Copyright necessarily cover the same ground as the Bill of my noble Friend behind me, and I think it will be necessary that his Bill should be referred to the same Committee, so that the whole subject of the two Bills may be considered together, and that the matters he has dealt with, and the whole of the other matters hitherto undealt with, should be put into shape and returned to your Lordships' House for consideration. My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (The Earl of HALSBURY)
My Lords, I quite concur that this is a subject which requires consideration. There are some provisions in the Bill to which I could not give my consent, but, after what my noble and learned Friend said, I think that these matters are ones which would be very appropriately discussed by a Committee. The subject is one which undoubtedly creates a very considerable interest, an interest which, I think, is very generally felt, and I share that feeling. There are some parts of the law of Copyright which do require amendment, and, under those circumstances, I think, your Lordships may very well give this Bill a Second Reading.
§ LORD KNUTSFORD
I should like to know whether the noble Lord contemplates having any evidence called before the Committee. I think it would be quite necessary to give the Committee power to call evidence, because I have never known any Copyright question raised which has not led to a great deal of conflict of opinion, and I therefore think that power to call evidence should certainly be given.
I am quite aware that there is a conflict of opinion—an acute conflict—with regard to certain provisions, and I think it would be desirable that witnesses should be called.
I am perfectly willing to agree to the proposition of the noble and learned Lord that my Bill should proceed pari passu with his, and be referred to a Select Committee together with his. I hope I may be allowed to express my great satisfaction that the reform of the law of Copyright should have got into such strong hands as those of my noble and learned Friend. As regards the Bill now before your Lordships' House, I may observe that I know, from correspondence I have received, that the Bill is not one which will give satisfaction in every quarter. Only to-day I received a telegram from a very distinguished artist, saying that the Bill would not be satisfactory to artists. I shall write to that very distinguished gentleman and tell him that the best course he can adopt is to be called as a witness before the Select Committee.
§ Question put.
§ Bill read a second time.
§ LORD HERSCHELL
I beg to move that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee, with power to call evidence.
§ Question put. Motion carried.
I beg to move that the order for going into Committee on the Bill introduced by myself, should be discharged, and that that Bill should be referred to a Select Committee.
§ Question put. Motion carried.